All major West End rivers have been closed to sport fishing to protect salmon prevented from moving upstream to spawn by extreme low-water conditions.
In addition, the Quileute, Hoh and Quinault tribes have suspended or curtailed their commercial and subsistence net fisheries until rainfall swells the rivers.
No significant rain is forecast for the West End or elsewhere on the North Olympic Peninsula through the end of this week.
“Suspending fishing will provide some protection for the fish — but what they really need is a good, hard rain,”‘ said Bill Freymond, a state Fish and Wildlife Department biologist.
Many chinook and coho salmon in West End rivers are trapped below riffles just a few inches deep, he said.
The Elwha, Dungeness and other rivers are being watched closely.
“If these dry conditions persist, anglers should be watching for potential emergency actions in other areas to protect salmon runs,” said Jeff Koenings, state Fish and Wildlife director.
On Monday, Olympic National Park closed the Hoh, Queets and Quinault rivers and their tributaries within park boundaries.
Outside park boundaries, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the Hoh and South Fork Hoh rivers and the Clearwater River effective at 12:01 a.m. today.
The Queets River system, which falls under Quinault tribal jurisdiction west of the national park boundary, has been sharply curtailed, and no chinook take for sport fishing is allowed, a tribal fisheries scientist said Monday.
Last week, state and tribal fisheries managers suspended all fisheries on the Quillayute River system.
On Sunday, all sport fisheries closed until further notice on tributaries to the Quillayute, including the Bogachiel, Calawah, Dickey and Sol Duc rivers.
Since Oct. 19, non-tribal anglers have been prohibited from fishing on the Quillayute from its mouth to the confluence of the Sol Duc and Bogachiel.
The closures apply to all types of fishing, regardless of species.
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